I was pretty excited about the Apple announcement this last week. I do wish we would have seen a next gen iPod, especially with the Zune rearing it’s ugly head. But overall I was impressed that we were finally going to see a true television/computer convergence. We have been waiting for someone to deliver on the promise of downloadable movies for a while. I’m happy that Apple decided to add the television element to the mix.
So I waited until I had some time to go and download the new iTunes and grab a movie. I decided to download Gross Pointe Blank. The download was obviously as simple as downloading a song. And I loved the fact that I could watch it as it downloaded. I was able to find the movie I wanted, buy it, and start watching it in under 5 minutes. That is pretty damn amazing.
But…I have to say that I’m not very happy with a couple of issues. First, the picture quality kinda sucks for television. I have a 23″ Cinema Display, so I thought this would be ideal for watching a movie. But, the picture is grainy and a bit blurry. I even had a couple shot freezes on me. If the picture quality is this bad on a 23″ display, what will it be like on my 60″ television? Hopefully when they launch the iTV box, they will bump up the resolution. Keeping in mind that these are not rentals, we actually own these movies, I would like to own them in at least DVD quality, preferably in HDTV quality.
My second issue is the lack of option to burn to DVD. It would make sense that I could just burn this to DVD and watch it on my TV now, without having to wait for the iTV. And I don’t know if Apple has done the match on hard drive space and how many movies I can possibly buy. But by my calculations, even if I had nothing else on my hard drive at all, less than 100 movies. Keeping in mind that I am supposed to own and keep these movies.
This brings me to my next complaint; why not rent? I can understand not renting music. I will listen to the same CD hundreds of times in my life. But, movies are not the same. I rarely watch the same movie twice, and hardly ever more then that (except Planes, Trains and Automobiles which I watch on television every holiday season). So, why not let me rent the movies for $3 or $4? To be honest, I wouldn’t mind the picture quality as much then.
My third complaint is the opposite. If the idea is to store all my movies on to my hard drive, why not let me rip movies to iTunes? If this is going to be my digital lifestyle hub, I will need access to the large collection of movies I already have.
Overall I get the feeling that Steve didn’t get the agreements he wanted from the movies studios. It seems like they made this like music in the sense I have to buy to own each title, but not like music in that the quality sucks and I can’t rip my old stuff. Hopefully Steve is able to battle this back a bit. If the MPAA thinks this is how to stop piracy, they are wrong as usual. They can stop it by providing the highest quality possible, something that you can’t really get through pirates, and by letting us rent the movies so we can keep the price low, and not worth the effort to pirate the movies.
Hopefully we will see some upgrades next year in this. For now I don’t see buying many movies through iTunes. I’ll just have to keep going to Blockbuster or using pay-per-view.